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Kidnapping survivor Jaycee Dugard said she is “outraged” that one of Elizabeth Smart’s captors is being released from prison years earlier than expected.
Dugard, who was held captive for 18 years after being abducted as a child, expressed anger over a parole board’s recent decision to release Wanda Barzee from prison. Barzee, 72, has served more than 15 years for helping her husband, Brian David Mitchell, kidnap Smart in 2002.
“Wanda Barzee is clearly equally responsible for their actions and she should not be allowed to send a message that her actions are excusable,” Dugard said in a statement released Tuesday.
Barzee originally was set to remain behind bars until 2024, but last week the Utah parole board ruled that the inmate’s time in federal custody should be applied toward her state sentence. That means she will be released Wednesday from prison.
Smart pleaded with Utah authorities last week to reconsider the decision, arguing that her captor remains a danger to the community. Dugard urged officials to listen.
“Believe Elizabeth when she says this woman is a threat to society. I feel deeply for what Elizabeth is going through knowing this dangerous person is free to walk the streets,” she said.
Dugard was kidnapped at the age of 11 by convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido and kept in captivity for 18 years. She was raped, handcuffed and gave birth to two girls fathered by Garrido while held prisoner.
She was rescued in California along with her two daughters in 2009.
Garrido was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and multiple counts of sexual assault. His wife, Nancy, was sentenced to 36 years.
Dugard noted in her statement Tuesday that she was kidnapped by Garrido after his early release from prison.
“Wasn’t a lesson learned from my case when Phillip was released from prison early in his first rape and kidnapping conviction? He was then free to take me with his wife’s help,” she said.
Dugard added that she believes Barzee is just as guilty as her husband and “deserves to serve the same amount of time. At the very least she should be asked to serve the time given."
In 2002, Barzee and Mitchell kidnapped a 14-year-old Smart at knifepoint from the bedroom of her family’s Salt Lake City home. Smart was raped and tortured nearly every day of the nine months she was held captive. Mitchell is now serving a life sentence.
During a news conference last week, Smart spoke out against Barzee’s impending release, calling her a threat despite the time she has spent behind bars.
“She is a woman who had six children and yet could co-conspire to kidnap a 14-year-old girl. And not only sit next to her while being raped, but encourage her husband to continue to rape me,” Smart said. “So do I believe that she is dangerous? Yes, but not just to me. I believe that she is a danger and a threat to any vulnerable person in our community.”